36 Hours in New York City
New York. It’s the city of bright lights and big dreams. People come from all over the world to visit this restless city and make their dreams come true.
I was no exception.
I came to New York for an event—we’ll get into that later—and was able to have a fabulous, though short, time.
So what does a person do with 36 hours in the big apple? Well, keep reading and you’ll find out how I made the most of it.
There are many, many option for hotels in New York. You can choose anything from your standard Holiday Inn to hostels. Personally, I like boutique hotels—there’s always a swanky vibe that I enjoy and they typically cater to Millennials quite well.
The hotel I chose was Hotel 48LEX. It’s a upscale boutique hotel in Manhattan (Midtown East area). The hotel itself is sophisticated yet relaxed. I arrived in NYC early on in the morning—around 10:30am or so—with my boyfriend meeting me later on in the evening. The room wasn’t ready until 4pm, but the hotel offered to hold my bags for me while I explored the city. I’ll tell you more on that later though. The personnel for the most part were Millennials, which made me more comfortable and able to connect quicker.
As far as decor goes, this hotel was pretty much Restoration Hardware RHModern showroom. It had beautiful art deco fixtures, distressed accent mirrors, bright lighting, and varied textures all wound together in a minimalistic style. If you’re into aesthetics, you’ll love this hotel. 48LEX is sleek, chic, trend, modern, and absolutely Insta-worthy.
We stayed in what they call a “King Salon” (there’s no need to splurge for anything more when you only stay one night). It had a king-sized bed, huge floor-to-ceiling window the looks out onto Lexington Avenue, beautiful bathroom with a walk-in shower, a kitchenette with more wine than you could imagine (microwave, skin, fridge, dishwasher, and pantry all included of course), and a desk area. You standard amenities (TV, phone, hair dryer, robes, iron, air control, bath products, etc.) were all included as well.
One of my favorite areas of the hotel was the lounge, located on the 2nd floor. It was welcoming and impeccably decorated as well. Crome details, mirrored coffee tables, plush chairs, a bar-style high table, espresso machine, are just some of the details you’ll find in the lounge. During the morning, they have a simply light breakfast spread with personnel available to make you a latte, espresso, coffee, cappuccino, and more. Fresh juices and water (sparkling, tap, and room-temp are all available) are also available for your convenience. The lounge has several additional rooms, but we liked the main room the best.
Snacks & Sips
New York city has just about every food option you could ever want. From candy-filled shakes to decked-out donuts, you can fulfill your palette easily. My favorite place was one we went to for dinner. It’s called Vandal and is located on the Lower East Side.
It’s a very hip restaurant lounge with out of this world decor (if you couldn’t tell by now, decor is important to me). From beautifully overwhelming flowers when you walk in, to stop-and-stare lighting fixtures, this place is one that you can’t help but love. It has a very urban-inspired vibe and plays music that our whole group was a fan of. From Ignition to Blurred Lines, you can’t help but dance a little. This place seems to be popular for bachelorette parties and group outings. We went on a double date with one of the couples we’re taking our next trip with and had an amazing time.
Vandal is a tapas-style restaurant, so the things you order are to be shared among the table—which is perfect for the variety on the menu. There’s something for everyone. For the four of us, we ordered 8 plates. They came 2-3 at a time, which was perfect for us. Every dish we had was delicious. My favorites we the crispy chicken and hong kong egg waffles and crispy eggplant. I also had the Rio De Frosé—this is very good, but very strong. Even though I’m a lightweight because I don’t drink often, I’m confident that even seasoned drinkers would get a buzz. It was delicious and beautiful, but just be aware it is strong one.
Coffee bars are all over the city as well. While we typically stuck with Starbucks, I did venture out to a coffee place called Joe & the Juice. Since I try to stay away from dairy, I just ended up getting an iced coffee with dairy-free milk. It was pretty standard as far as coffee goes, but the vibe of the place itself was what I really enjoyed. It was a very hip and laid back place. It had dark wood, a large chalk-board like menu, and filled with cool-girl/guy people. If you’re looking for a trendy hipster coffee spot, this ones for you. In hindsight, I wish I tried the juices or frozen coffee, but hey, I’ll do it next time. I was venturing around the city and hitting up shops, so I was just looking for some caffeine.
New York shopping is great. You have everything you need there. From luxury to everyday stores, you can find whatever you need all within a few blocks. There are several places with clusters of clothing stores, so you don’t have to travel to the ends of the city to find something yo need. Some of the stores I stopped in were Zara, H&M, Artista, Lego Store, M&M Store, Brandy Melville, and Kate Spade. Coming from Chicago, I wasn’t totally impressed because we have most of these besides the Lego store, M&M store, and Brandy Melville. Still, it was all very cool to visit and see the differences between the locations.
Sights & Socials
For only being there 36 hours, we saw a lot. My first sight was the Manhattan bridge that my Uber driver drove over on the way into the city. In my afternoon before my boyfriend got there, I went to Times Square, Soho, Bryant Park, and the Garment District. Each place was filled with people and every location was so diverse. Bryant Park is a great place to visit if you’re into reading. They had book shelves of free books that you can just pick up and read for a bit while you were in the park—just make sure you return it at the end so that someone else can read it too.
If you like more of a non-tourist area, Soho is perfect. There’s beautiful architecture and way less people than in Times Square. It reminded me of a blend of the Gold Coast and West Loop in Chicago. I have been to New York before, so Times Square was a place where much time wasn’t spent.
The event that I came to New York for was located in the Flatiron District. It was for a company called Muses. The event was fabulous and full of exactly what you’ll expect to see at a NYC event: trendy, gorgeous people. Everyone had their own style and personality that blended seamlessly with one another. The event itself was in this stunning minimalistic loft area. It was bright, airy, and perfect for all of the fellow influencers, brands, and bloggers that were there with me.
Muses had set up a cute cocktail area with an abundance of blue wine (sponsored by Saraceni Wines), giant foil balloons, a beautiful rose wall, and an Insta-worthy clothing rack with a local designer’s items. There were also cake samples, a couch to mingle with others on, and beautiful bouquets of flowers put together by a local florist.
On Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I went on a sight-seeing adventure. He taught me a travel hack: leaving your luggage with the hotel when you check out, then coming back for it before your flight. This way, you get to see everything you want without having to lug your bags around.
We hit up Times Square, Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Station. We ducked into several stores, got coffee, and saw the most beautiful sights in Central Park. Every place we went was incredible and memorable. If you have more than a day and a half in New York, I recommend spending a full day at Central Park. It’s a huge area that has something for everyone. Whether you like croquet or people watching, make sure to make time for Central Park. There’s a reason it’s so famous.
Stepping into Grand Central Station is surreal. You see it in movies often, but being there is unbelievable. It’s stunning and you can almost feel the history when you’re standing there looking around. I finally understood how people feel when they come to Chicago and visit Union Station. I used to have the mindset of, “It’s a train station, so what?” but it’s actually amazing. Visiting Grand Central Station was our last stop because from there we took transit to Laguardia Airport, and then it was back to Chicago for us.
Until next time, NYC. Thanks for the adventure.